24.11.09

Shivaji posters vs. the canny ‘Idea’ ad

Today, November 24, is Terror Day. Where? In Mumbai and, perhaps, Maharashtra as well.

Is there anything being left out of this terrorism jamboree? Many of you are already aware about the Shiv Sena’s attempts to revive the killing of Afzal Khan by Shivaji. It happened 350 years ago.

2009. The Shiv Sena vandalises the offices of a media group, repeating previous performances. Anyone who does not ‘do’ the local act well enough is rebuked. The party has a history of destroying not enemies but those who don't follow their ‘principles’. Every group has been targeted at some point in time or the other.

They should not be talking about terrorism.

Having said this, I disagree with the cops that the posters of Shivaji murdering Afzal Khan should not be allowed. What does ‘pre-empting a possible law-and-order situation’ mean? If the SS believes it conveys a message, then it should stop there. Let people decide what they are learning. Our school texts had this lesson, so what is the fuss about?

The Shiv Sena is wrong on many counts, but here I do not think we can prevent them from putting up posters.

It assumes that there will be a backlash. From whom? Going by the image I have reproduced, it looks like a scene from some kitschy tele-series or a comic book produced on cheap paper. It tells us more about historical costumes and some drama.

If they wish to convey that our guys too can kill, then we don’t need posters. We have contemporary examples.

For those who aren’t aware, the Afzal-Shivaji deal was supposed to be a real cunning murder.

The Maratha king was referred to by the Mughal rulers as “the mountain rat” and our teachers, irrespective of which faith they belonged to, would smile at the reference. We were to be in awe of rats in mountains, never mind that on any mountain I managed to get to (via cable car or a zigzag drive) I did not spot a single rat. Rats until the Shivaji allusion had been those pesky creatures that jumped out of nowhere to do nothing in particular but make you perform the innocent damsel in distress act. It was a fairytale pantomime. Then came advanced studies where rats were people, in the sense that they had things tested on them to ascertain that we humans could tolerate levels of toxins and other materials that we would be subjected to.

When the Gujarat plague happened, rats were incidental and Surat became a showcase for progress. There is a temple where rats are worshipped, and countries where rats are eaten.

But for today, it is about a brave rat who asked his opponent to meet him at the foothills of Fort Pratapgarh for a bit of d├ętente. Assuming that the wily Khan would come prepared, our Shivaji wore a nice armour (not even bullet proof!), carried a tiny dagger and a pair of tiger claws.

When the strapping Khan pretended to embrace Shivaji and decided to stab him in the back, our Maratha was prepared. (Was there a mirror where he could see this?) He performed a great butchery with intestines and other parts being pulled out, culminating in the beheading. It is pertinent to note that Afzal Khan’s legal advisor was a Brahmin who was also killed.

Therefore, we are dealing with not only a Mughal-Maratha battle but a Kshatriya-Brahmin one too, besides of course the parochial one.

These are more nuanced readings that cannot be adequately conveyed in posters. By gagging all attempts to put these up, we are only giving them – the posters and the party – more importance than they deserve.

It is more crucial to keep in check the latter-day backstabbers and mountain rats. And, of course, armours that don’t work.

Posit this against attempts by the charmed liberals using militancy for their moment under the humane arclights.

Today, everyone wants to celebrate a terror day. Even religious festivals have tableaux depicting the terrorist attack. Ajmal Kasab has been shown in different garbs. The ‘enough is enough’ brigade had gone full throttle over it. Now, there is an ad by Idea, a cellphone company, asking you to talk on 26/11 for one hour. The net amount the company earns will go to the police force. Do you think it gives a damn about terrorism? It just wants to make people spend money, initially for ‘concern’ and ‘involvement’ - chup nahin rehna (do not keep quiet, as though they did then). It is entirely possible that the brand with such emotional blackmail will rake in many more subscribers. They mention the five crore existing ones; herd mentality will make many more join in and it will be seen as a movement.

This is so simple and we love simplifications.

I was not sure I wanted to project this ad here, but I will do so to show it up for what it is – a cunning attempt to get mileage. It would be better that everyone just shuts up and donates what they want quietly and maintains some dignity. One hour of discussing food, clothes, or breathing heavily into the phone will not make people 'talk for India'. Idiots.

2 comments:

  1. These posters will make people angry and there could be riots.Also why they are bringing this now??It is goonda party and police are doing the right thing

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  2. Why are they bringing this up now? Who does not? This is what has been happening for the past so many years. Had they just put up the posters a handful would have made a noise because they are expected to, nothing more.

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